Under California law, Los Angeles beneficiaries have fundamental rights that are integral to a fair, timely and equitable distribution of trust assets. While the terms of a trust should be inviolable, there are still unfortunate cases when trustees abuse their authority and commit breach of fiduciary duty. This can result in serious damage to the trust and put a family's economic future in jeopardy.
Last night Michael Hackard appeared on San Francisco's public radio station, KALW 91.7. Michael was honored to be a guest on the show Your Legal Rights, hosted by Chuck Finney, a veteran San Mateo deputy district attorney and consumer advocate.
William Shakespeare's observation that "What's past is prologue" is a ready reference when we're thinking about the future. We often see that what has happened until now sets the stage for what will happen in the future. When it comes to California trust, probate and estate litigation the past year - 2017 - is likely a preface to what will take place in 2018.
Next week on Wednesday, January 3rd, I'll be live in studio at KALW 91.7 FM, San Francisco's NPR affiliate. My host will be Chuck Finney, whose program Your Legal Rights is a leading resource for consumer protection nationwide. Chuck is also a veteran lawyer with 51 years of experience, and he has served 33 years as a San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney with a special focus on consumer and environmental safeguards. Chuck and I will be discussing my new book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse.
As 2017 comes to a close, it's time for us at Hackard Law to peer into the future. What will 2018 look like for estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California?
For many of us, our expectations of fairness arise from an early childhood experience that struck us as "unfair." We may have seen an action affecting us or others that dashed our expectations - expectations often grounded in childhood innocence. These events may stay with us and influence our desire for fairness in our lives and in the lives of others.
In a new article on the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Financial Advisor magazine interviewed Michael Hackard for his analysis of its safeguards against elder financial abuse. Financial Advisor is the premiere publication in America for wealth advisors, financial planners, independent broker-dealers, and investment professionals, and it reaches a monthly audience of 110,000 qualified readers.
The roots of 21st Century inheritance laws run deep into the cradle of Western Civilization. The ancient Greek Athenian leader Solon made great efforts to devise a law code that ultimately became one of the foundations of democracy. This code helped establish rules for a civilized society. Part of the code addressed inheritance rights. Prior to the code an Athenian could not make a will. At death the wealth and assets of the decedent simply belonged to his family.
We want the professionals serving us to aspire to and act consistent with the highest ethics and standards of their profession. Doctors should "first do no harm," lawyers need to be honest with their clients, themselves, courts and juries, and trustees who manage trust assets must be honest and loyal in their administration.
Prospective clients often ask whether I've ever seen an estate or trust dispute like theirs. Case facts and wrongdoers' actions seem so outrageous that aggrieved family members may think that their case is a "one in a million." Of course, given the geographic and litigation scope of our practice, most cases don't feel like "one in a million."